Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Other Thoughts on Runoffs

To keep y'all thinking about the political battles that have yet to be waged, I'll connect you to this missive from the AJC's Jim Tharpe about the history of runoff elections here in the Empire State (of the South) and other regional neighbors.

"Democrats altered runoff requirements in the early 1990s after Democrat Wyche Fowler lost a U.S. Senate race to Paul Coverdell. Fowler got more votes than Coverdell in the 1992 general election, but neither candidate broke 50 percent. In the runoff, Coverdell beat Fowler, which infuriated Democrats, who controlled the state Legislature.

They changed the law so that a candidate only had to win 45 percent of the vote in a general election to avoid a runoff.

Republicans, however, changed the rule back to a majority vote in 2005 after they gained control of the Legislature. The GOP was still smarting over a 1996 U.S. Senate race in which Democrat Max Cleland narrowly defeated Republican Guy Millner.

That change, in turn, came back to haunt Republicans last year when Chambliss got more votes than Democrat Jim Martin and Libertarian Allen Buckley in the general election, but was forced into a grueling runoff because Chambliss did not get a majority."

Personally, I think there will be some thinking about the runoff system in halls that are more grandiose than this as the economic situation continues to play itself out.
As the above paragraph confides, the runoff system is mos def subject to the capricious whims of the electorate and those who represent it.

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